Are you up to speed with UPRNs?

Unique Property Reference Numbers, or UPRNs, are increasingly being used in property sales transactions , and estate agents need to be aware of the importance of their use in the process.

As of July 1st, 2020, the government mandated the use of both the UPRN and its ‘sister’ identifier, the USRN (Unique Street Reference Number), in all public sector systems and processes. In short, the UPRN is a unique identifier. One UPRN is assigned to each addressable location in the UK, and as a unique identifier, that UPRN is associated with that location for its entire lifecycle.

They are the product of the Street Naming and Numbering processes that take place under the remit of the UK’s local authorities. This leads to a continuous feed of data involving over 20 million changes per year into GeoPlace, the entity that was established in 2010 to oversee the production and maintenance of national address and street gazetteers created and maintained with input from all local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland.

GeoPlace then validates, links, and integrates data from all the 528 organisations supplying data, often daily, to ensure the integrity of that data.

In many ways, UPRNs might be compared to a bank account number or car number plate. Crucially, UPRNs are machine-readable, which means exchanging data becomes much easier, and they are sector-agnostic – it’s the same reference format, whether you’re working in property, government, finance, retail, health or utilities.

Using UPRNs enables people to be absolutely confident that they are dealing with exactly the same piece of land or property. By embedding UPRNs in their processes, linking and enhancing data becomes much easier and more efficient.

UPRNs now underpin a wide range of government processes, including the census, registering to vote, processes at the DVLA such as vehicle logbooks, removal of the tax disc system and the paper counterpart driving license, roll out of gigabit-capable broadband and the National Fraud Initiative.

On 31st March 2022, trade and representative bodies representing the legal, surveying, estate agency and property management sectors launched a new version of the BASPI – the Buying and Selling Property Information form. This initiative is part of a wider process to digitise the home buying process so that information can be shared electronically between all parties involved in the conveyancing process.

The form is used by conveyancing professionals to help speed up property transactions and contains essential information about a property to ensure that it is ready for market and ready for sale. The BASPI has been developed by a working group of the Home Buyers and Selling Group (HBSG).

The form ensures certainty of information about a property and has been developed to be a single source of truth containing all the information required when a property is being marketed for sale and then purchased. As it is part of the legal process for selling a property, it also forms part of the contract for sale.

For the first time, the form includes the requirement to include a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) alongside the address of the property. UPRNs are assigned to each addressable location in the UK. As a unique identifier, that UPRN is associated with that location for its entire lifecycle. This means information about those locations can be identified, linked, shared, managed, and maintained with absolute confidence – and with more efficiency than might be otherwise achievable.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:

“The Conveyancing Association is working with conveyancers and lenders to create a Property Data Trust Framework. The Property Data Trust Framework also requires authentication of the provenance of the data – and attaching it to the UPRN – will ensure the homeowner and stakeholders involved in the process can access the data they need when they need it whether that is on sale, re-mortgage, planning application or even retrofit.”

“Attaching the UPRN will ensure the technology providers can create FAIR data systems and identify which property the data relates to, which is not always easy when just relying on the Title Number or the property address. After all ‘flat A’ could also be called ‘ground floor flat’. The UPRN gets rid of all the uncertainty. It can also link to the ‘parent’ UPRN where the property is leasehold which of course is key when trying to establish whether a Fire Safety inspection has been completed on the entire building and therefore there is an EWS1 for the flat you are dealing with.”

Nick Chapallaz, Managing Director of GeoPlace commented:

“At last year’s GeoPlace annual conference, the Housing Minister, the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP called for UPRNs to be ‘baked in’ to streamline house buying and selling. The Minister emphasised that many barriers to progress in the housing sector could be removed through the ubiquitous adoption of UPRNs, as they bring simplicity and agility to all processes. UPRNs make it easier to share data, make informed decisions, and put everyone ‘on the same digital page.”

“We are delighted to see the progress made over the last year and the inclusion of UPRNs within the BAPSI form. We believe that this will provide the certainty that the conveyancing sector needs in identifying the correct property for sale and purchase. We have recently become a member of the Conveyancing Information Executive and look forward to working closely with its members, as well as the wider property market to provide advice and expertise on the utilising UPRNs.”

Nick added: “We will continue to explore the potential of UPRNs to speed up conveyancing at our annual conference this year during a session on ‘Improving the property chain’ which includes speakers from Nationwide, Zoopla and HM Land Registry”.

UPRNs are available to the market in the form of the well-known OS AddressBase products, and as Open Data in the form of OS Open UPRN.

GeoPlace provides a non-commercial service, FindMyAddress, which enables users to look up the UPRN for a property, and there are also web pages specifically for resources for the property sector.

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2 Comments

  1. cjhhhh51

    thank you very much what a handy and clear article!

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  2. jameswright

    Until UPRNs are free they won’t be fully adopted by the industry. It’s such a shame that the government hasn’t forced this, as there are many benefits to using UPRNs.

    The Find My Address service license specifically excludes use by businesses, so I have no idea why they even mention it.

    2.1 You are granted a non-exclusive, royalty free, revocable licence solely to view the Address Data for personal, non-commercial purposes.

    As a consumer, if I find my UPRN using that site, I’m specifically excluded from sharing it with my estate agent or other parties:

    2.2 This Licence does not give you the right to sub-license, distribute, sell or otherwise make available the Address Data to third parties in any form.

     

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